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Sarah 'Sally' (Wetzel) Heimbach


Sarah's grave marker in German,
Huff's Church Cemetery

Sarah "Sally" (Wetzel) Heimbach was born on April 3, 1820 in Longswamp Township, Berks County, PA, the daughter of Johan "Peter" and Anna Margaretha (Gaumer) Wetzel. She grew up not learning to read or write.

In 1838, when she was age 18, Sally married 24-year-old Nathan Heimbach (1814-1873).

The pair produced four known offspring -- Lovina Leibensperger, Sarah Ann Miller, Henry Heimbach and Amanda Heimbach. There was an eight-year age gap between the first and second surviving children.

Nathan was a longtime carpenter.

When the United States Census was taken in 1850, the young family made their home in Washington Township, Berks County.

The family relocated to Longswamp Township, Berks County by 1860 and remained there as of 1870. The federal census enumeration of 1870 shows that 60-year-old Elizabeth Heimbach -- Nathan's mother? -- dwelled in their home.

The Heimbachs were members of Huff's Reformed Church of Zionsville.


Nathan's German grave, Huff's Church

The fate of Nathan is not precisely known because the evidence is confusing. Two excellent sources -- his gravestone and handwritten pastoral records of their clergyman Rev. Eli Keller -- state that he passed away in 1873, when he would have been age 58 or 59.

But the United States Census of 1880 shows that he was still alive and living with his unmarried daughter Amanda and next door to his married daughters Lovina Leibensperger and Sarah Miller. This anomaly is simply un-explainable.

Either way, Nathan's interment was in Huff's Church Cemetery.

Sarah outlived her spouse by a dozen years. Burdened with "consumption of marrow," wrote her pastor, she died at the age of 64 on Feb. 7, 1885 with burial at Huff's Church. [Find-a-Grave] Rev. Keller's notes recorded that her offspring included three sons and five daughters.

Virtually identical, upright stone markers were erected at both of their graves, each featuring a rounded top edge and a carving of an opened Bible, a common motif in this burial yard. Both were inscribed in the old German script. On Sarah's, her maiden name of "Wetzel" was lettered on the face as well as the name of her husband. Nathan's appears to have been broken into three parts at some point in time, but restored into their place, with the pieces bolted together.


~ Daughter Lovina (Heimbach) Leibensperger ~


Lovina's grave, Huff's Church

Daughter Lovina Heimbach (1839-1903) was born on Jan. 14, 1839.

When Lovina was 20 years of age, on March 22, 1860, she married 33-year-old David Leibensperger Sr. (Jan. 6, 1827-1899), also spelled "Leibensberger," the son of David and Rebecca (Klein) Leibensperger.

Born and raised on the Nurman farm near Rittenhouse Gap, David was a lifelong resident of Longswamp Township, Berks County. He could neither read nor write.

The couple were the parents of five children -- David J. Leibensperger Jr., Sallie Leibensperger, Alice Fisher, William "Henry" Leibensperger and Nathan Alfred Leibensperger.

They also helped raised a grandson, Nathan Bock, born 1879.

The federal census of 1860 shows the 21-year-old Lovina living with her husband and newborn son David in her parents' farm household in Longswamp.

They remained in Longswamp for decades, near the village of Seisholtzville, close to the Hereford Township border. David earned a living over the years as a carpenter and cooper, and worked at the trade until about a week before his death.


Despite the misspelling, this 1876 map of Longswamp Township likely shows the location of Lovina and David's home farm near the border of Hereford Township.



Family pastor Rev. Eli Keller
History of the Keller Family

Over the years, when their children came of age, they were baptized and confirmed into the family house of worship, the Huff''s Reformed Church of Zionsville. Evidence suggests that the confirmations were held every two years, during the first or second week of November, starting in 1874. At each event, their longtime pastor, Rev. Dr. Eli Keller, filled out and signed a confirmation certificate, known as a schein. These documents were written in German for sons David (1874) and William "Henry" (1878) and in English for Nathan Alfred (1886), with the originals preserved today in the Minerd.com Archives.

Rev. Keller also kept a personal written notation of each child he baptized and confirmed, every couple he married and each individual he buried. The original volume of his handwritten records is housed in the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, PA. A copy of the typed version, prepared by Raymond E. Hollenbach of Royersford, PA on Dec. 5, 1975, is maintained in the Minerd.com Archives.

Heartache cascaded over the family when 24-year-old unmarried son William Henry was killed in a quarry accident in July 1885, and then again when son Nathan Alfred succumbed to an incurable case of the measles in February 1891. Each one's remains were lowered into holy rest in the Huff's Church Cemetery, with grave markers erected and inscribed in the German language.

Sadly, David contracted a case of the grip (pneumonia) and also developed an infection of his digestive system. He was unable to recover and succumbed to death at the age of 71 on Feb. 17, 1899. A short obituary in the Allentown Leader said that his longtime pastor, Rev. Keller of Zionsville, would preach the funeral sermon at Huff's Church.


David's grave, Huff's Church

Reported the Allentown Morning Call, his pallbearers included Charles Fenstermacher, Charles Reinert, David Conrad and Nicholas Bauer. In his pastoral records of burials, Rev. Keller simply wrote the cause of death as "inflammation of bowels" and that the deceased was the father of three sons and two daughters.

Five years later, a public sale of his possessions was held in Seisholtzville.

Lovina outlived her spouse by five years. In 1900, when the federal census was taken, she lived in Longswamp with her son David, and she disclosed that only three of her five children were still living.

She died at the age of 64 on April 12, 1903. Her remains were placed into rest in Huff's Union Church Cemetery. Pallbearers were Charles Fenstermacher, Charles Reinert, David Conrad and Nicholas Bauer. [Find-a-Grave] Interestingly, showing the evolution of the local language customs from German into English, her and David's grave markers were inscribed in English, unlike their son Nathan's from just eight years earlier.

Son David J. Leibensperger Jr. (1860-1933) was born on Jan. 17, 1860. When he was 14 years of age, in a ceremony held on Nov. 6, 1874, David was baptized and confirmed into the family house of worship, the Reformed wing of Huff's Lutheran and Reformed Church of Zionsville, Hereford Township. He was one of 26 confirmations made that day. The pastor, Rev. Eli Keller, filled out and signed a confirmation certificate, known as a schein, written in German. The original schein is kept in the Minerd.com Archives. Circa 1880, David lived at home with his parents and earned income as a coal mine laborer. At the age of about 29, on Sept. 14, 1889, he was united in matrimony with 21-year-old Tama "Tammie" Hoffman (June 8, 1867-1927), daughter of George and Hettie (Reinert) Hoffman. His longtime pastor, Rev. Keller, officiated at the wedding ceremony. The couple's two offspring were Mary Wetzel and William George "Willie" Leibensperger. They were farmers for many years and resided in Longswamp, Berks County and later in Macungie, Lehigh County. David's widowed mother and 49-year-old uncle Henry Heimbach lived under their roof circa 1900. Census records for 1910 show David, Tannie and the children on their Longswamp farm. At the age of 59, on Jan. 30, 1927, Tannie died from the effects of "locomotor ataxia" -- a degeneration of the spinal column which causes loss of control of bodily movements. Her remains were lowered into rest in the cemetery at Huff's Church. David survived her by another six years and in 1930 dwelled in in the home of his married daughter in Rittenhouse Gap near Seisholtzville, with a post office of "Macungie R. 2." He and his bachelor son earned a living circa 1930 as laborers in a local granite works. As David's health was failing during the Christmas season in 1930, his sister Alice Fisher and her son Fred drove from Pennsburg to pay a visit. He recovered sufficiently that in June 1931, he and his son William drove to Pennsburg to see the Fishers. But burdened with heart disease, hardening of the arteries and pneumonia, David succumbed at the age of 73 on Sept. 2, 1933. Son-in-law John J. Wetzel of Macungie signed the Pennsylvania death certificate. Funeral services were held in the Wetzel home, with a shorter one following in Huff's Church, with burial was in Union Cemetery, said the Allentown Morning Call.


Above and below: David Leibensperger's confirmation schein (certificate), 1874, signed by Rev. Eli Keller of the Reformed Church of Zionsville, PA.



In German: In English:
Jesaia 54.10 – Es sollen wohl Berge weichen und Hügel hinfallen; aber meine Gnade soll nicht von dir weichen, und der Bund meines Friedens soll niche hinfallen, spricht der Herr, dein Erbarmer.
Isaiah 54:10 - There are supposed to be mountains and hills to fall; but my grace shall not depart from you, and the covenant of my peace shall not fall, saith the Lord thy merciful.
Matthai 11, 28 – Kommet her zu mir alle, die ihr mühselig und beladen seid, ich will euch erquicken.
Matthew 11:28 - Come to me all who are laborious and burdened; I want to refresh you.
5 Mose 29, 9 – So haltet nun die Worle dieses Bundes und thut darnach, auf dass ihr weislich handeln mögel in allem euren Thun.
Deuteromony 29:9 - So now keep the word of this covenant and do it, so that you may act wise in all your actions.
Marci 8, 34 – Wer mir will nachfolgen, der verleugne sich selbst, und nehme sein Kreutz auf sich und folge mir nach.
Luke 9:23 - Who wants to follow me, deny himself and take his cross daily and follow me.
Ich entsage, Satan, dir
Dir, o Welt, und dir, o Sünde,
Ich entsag euch, weicht von mir,
Dem erlosten Gotteskinde!
Eure Lust ist Schmach und Pein!
Gott, nur Gott will ich mich weihn!
II renounce you, Satan, you
You, O world, and you, O sin,
I renounce you, depart from me,
To the redeemed God child!
Your lust is shame and pain!
God, only God I want to consecrate myself!
Wachen will ich, flelin um Kraft,
Dass ich stets auf seinem Wege
Heilig und gewissenhaft
Und im Glauben wandeln moge
Er wird mir die Kraft verheihn
Treu bis in den Tod zu sein.
I want to watch, flelin [?] for strength,
That I am always on his way
Holy and conscientious
And walk in faith
He will give me the strength
To be faithful to death.


  • Granddaughter Mary E. Leibensperger (1892-1966) was born in March 1892. On March 9, 1912, at the age of 20, Mary was united in holy matrimony with 25-year-old John J. Wetzel Sr. (1887-1963), sometimes spelled "Wetsel." He was the son of George and Emma (Moyer) Wetzel of Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County. The wedding was held at Old Zionsville in nearby Lehigh County, with Rev. James N. Blatt officiating, and with the news printed in a brief notice in the Allentown Morning Call. They produced these known offspring -- Eva S. Wetzel, Oscar D. Wetzel, Charles Wetzel, John J. Wetzel Jr., Mary Wetzel, Russell H. Wetzel and Thomas G. Wetzel. Early in his working career, John earned a living as a farmer, and the family belonged to the United Church of Christ wing of Huff's Church. Their home in 1920-1921 was on a farm in Rittenhouse Gap, Longswamp Township which is a little confusing as they received their mail through the Macungie post office. Evidence suggests that they relocated to the 80-acre farm of William Wenner in Lower Macungie, Lehigh County in March 1921, as reported in the gossip columns of the Morning Call. In doing so, they held a housewarming party which included attendees Mr. and Mrs. Henry Erb and children Verna, Mary and James; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Reichard and children Earl, Hannah, Mae, George, harry, John, Helen, Ida, Paul and Wilbur; Mr. and Mrs. William Schuler and chidren Raymond, Charles, Esda and William Jr.; Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Yercah, John and Solon Reinert and Levi Kline. The Wetzels remained on the "Wenner place" until March 1928, when they sold their farm stock and moved back to Seisholtzville. In 1930, Mary's aged father and bachelor brother lived under their roof, along with 38-year-old widower and future son-in-law Henry Erb. The 1940 census shows John laboring in the lumber industry in Longswamp. They remained in their Rittenhouse Gap home for the balance of their lives. John's final work was as a sand blaster, employed in Pottstown by Stanley T. Flagg iron foundry. He retired in about 1952. At the age of 75, John was admitted to Allentown Hospital where he passed into eternity on Sept. 9, 1963. An obituary in the Morning Call said he was survived by 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. Mary only lived for another three years as a widow. On March 26, 1966, she died in Allentown Hospital. A brief death notice appeared in the Morning Call.

Great-granddaughter Eva S. Wetzel (1913- ? ) was born in about 1913 in Longswamp Township. She was joined in holy matrimony with Henry Erb ( ? - ? ). Their residence in 1963 was in rural Mertztown, Berks County.

Great-grandson Oscar D. Wetzel (1915- ? ) was born in about 1915 in Longswamp Township. He worked as a truck driver for a contracting business in 1940. His home in 1974 was in Zionsville, Lehigh County.

Great-grandson Charles Wetzel (1917- ? ) was born on June 6, 1917 in Longswamp Township. In 1940, at age 23, he lived at home and earned income working for a local distillery. He joined the U.S. Army on May 14, 1941, about seven months before the nation was plunged into World War II. On his 25th birthday, in 1942, he was stationed "somewhere in Australia," said the Allentown Morning Call. His home in 1963-1974 was in rural Macungie.

Great-grandson John J. Wetzel Jr. (1920-1974) was born in 1920 in Longswamp Township. At the age of 20, in 1940, he labored at a stone quarry. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and returned home in early November 1945. He married Virginia Williams ( ? -2006). Their only child was Sherry Wetzel. The couple is believed to have separated. In later years, John was employed by Carl H. Betz of Orefield as a truck driver. He died at age 54 on June 13, 1974 in Allentown Osteopathic Hospital, with an obituary printed in the Morning Call. Virginia worked for General Electric for three decades and lived in Allentown. She died on April 1, 2006.

Great-granddaughter Mary Wetzel (1924- ? ) was born in about 1924 in Longswamp Township. She was united in wedlock with Peter Rios ( ? - ? ). They relocated to Atlanta, GA where they lived in 1963. By 1974, she had remarried to Dalton Grizzle ( ? - ? ) and returned to Pennsylvania, living in rural Alburtis.

Great-grandson Russell H. Wetzel (1928- ? ) was born in about 1928 in Longswamp Township. He dwelled in 1963-1974 in rural Macungie.

Great-grandson Thomas G. Wetzel (1930- ? ) was born in about 1930 in Longswamp Township. He lived in rural Macungie in 1963-1974.

  • Grandson William George "Willie" Leibensperger (1894- ? ) was born on April 21, 1894, Berks County. He received the rite of Christian baptism as an infant, a fact duly noted in the pastoral records of the family's minister, Rev. Eli Keller of Huff's Church Lutheran and Reformed Church. At the age of 25, unmarried, William lived at home and assisted his father with farmwork. During the decade of the 1920s, he and his aged father moved into the home of William's married sister and brother-in-law in Rittenhouse Gap, near Seisholtzville, receiving his mail through the Macungie post office. He remained in the Wetzel residence during the 1930s and found work at a distillery.


Henry's grave in German, Huff's Church

Son William "Henry" Leibensperger (1861-1885) was born on Jan. 23, 1861 in Longswamp Township, Berks County. He grew to manhood learning the family's trade of farming. At the age of 17, on Nov. 2, 1878, he and his sister Sally were among 34 young people to be confirmed in Huff's Reformed Church of Hereford Township, Berks County, using the ancient Heidelberg Catechism for their confession of Protestant faith. To mark the milestone, Henry received a German-language schein (confirmation certificate, produced in New York) on which was printed a religious declaration of blessings and beliefs as well as handwritten details of Henry's life. Sally likely received her own schein. The church's longtime pastor, Rev. Eli Keller, signed his name on Henry's document, the original of which today is preserved in the Minerd.com Archives.

Henry is known to have labored as a miner in 1880, likely in local ore pits, and lived with his parents in Longswamp at that time. Tragedy ended his life on July 16, 1885, when he was killed accidentally while at work. He was unmarried and only age 24 years, five months and 24 days. In his pastoral funeral records, family clergyman Rev. Keller simply wrote the cause of death as"accident in quarry." Henry's broken remains were lowered below the sod in Huff's Church Cemetery. [Find-a-Grave] No obituary has yet to be found in Allentown or Reading newspapers. An upright stone marker was placed at his grave, featuring a rounded top edge and a carving of an opened Bible, a common motif in this burial yard. The lettering was inscribed in the old German script. Across the top, on a curved line, is the phrase "Zum Undenten An," which in English means "For the moment" and reflects the Leibenspergers' belief in the Christian Resurrection. A notation on the left-hand Bible page stating that the funeral text was based on Psalms 102: 24-25. Reflecting the agony and grief Henry's parents must have felt in their profound loss, balanced against their bedrock of faith, the verse reads:

I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.


Above and below: Henry Leibensperger's confirmation schein (certificate), 1878, signed by Rev. Eli Keller of the Reformed Church of Zionsville, PA.



In German: In English:
Confirmirt Confirmed
und zum heiligen Abendmahle zugelassen
Solches bezeuget untere erneuerter Anwünchung des
göttlichen Segens und mit ernstlicher Hins weisung auf.
And approved for the holy supper
Such testifies lower again accretion of
Divine blessing and with serious Hins [?] instructions.

Biffet, so wird euch gegeben. Matt. 7; 7,8.

Ask, and it shall be given you. Matt 7, 7,8
Ich gebe Dir, mein Gott, aufs Neue
Leib, Seel und Herz zum Opfer hin
Erwecke mich zu neuer Treue
Und nimm Besitz von meinem Sinn.
Es sei in mir kein Tropfen Blut,
Bernicht, Herr! Deinen Willen thut.

I will give you my God anew
Body, soul and heart as a sacrifice,
Awaken me to new faith,
Form me according to your sense.
There is not a drop of blood in me,
who does not, sir, do your will.



Heldelberg Catechism

Daughter Sarah A. "Sallie" Leibensperger (1863- ? ) was born in about 1863. On Nov. 2, 1878, when she was 15 years of age, she and her brother Henry were among 34 young people to be confirmed by Rev. Eli Keller in Huff's Reformed Church of Hereford Township, Berks County, using the ancient Heidelberg Catechism for their confession of Protestant faith. She is known to have lived at home in 1899 at the death of her father, and she was named in the obituary in the Allentown Morning Call. Sadly, her precise fate is not known. There is no record of her marriage in Rev. Keller's lists. She is believed to have been deceased by 1933.

Daughter Alice Leibensperger (1866-1950) was born on May 29, 1866 in Berks County. When she was age 14, on Nov. 13, 1880, she was one of 40 young people to be confirmed in the family congregation, Huff's Reformed Church of Hereford Township, Berks County, by the hand of Rev. Eli Keller. She married George M. Fisher (July 23, 1861-1919), son of Lorenz "Lawrence" and Elizabeth (Moll) Fisher. They were farmers. In 1899, they dwelled in Dale, PA. Sadly, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, George was cut away by the Grim Reaper at the age of 56 on July 1, 1919. Alice outlived him by 31 years. In 1933, she was in Pennsburg, Montgomery County, PA. When her brother David was in failing health circa 1930-1933, Alice and her son Fred drove to his home for a visit. The widowed Alice lived at 436 Dotts Street in Pennsburg circa 1950. Having borne acute heart disease, she died at the age of 83 on May 4, 1950. Interment was in Huff's Reformed Church Cemetery. J.C. Landis of Pennsburg was the informant for the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. [Find-a-Grave]


Nathan's grave in German, Huff's Church

Son Nathan Alfred Leibensperger (1874-1891) was born on April 25, 1874. At the age of 12, on Nov. 6, 1886, Nathan was confirmed in the family house of worship, Huff's Reformed Church in Hereford Township, Berks County, as had his brothers David and William Henry and sisters Sally and Alice in previous years. In joining the congregation, he received a confirmation schein (certificate), signed by the church pastor, Rev. Eli Keller. Unlike similar scheins in the German language received by his brothers, his was printed entirely in English. The scripture quoted on the schein was I John 5:4: -- "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." The original of his schein is held today in the Minerd.com Archives.

But Nathan was not destined to reach adulthood. At the age of 16 years, 10 months and two days, he passed away on Feb. 27, 1891, from a deadly case of the measles. Interment was in Huff's Church burying ground, with Rev. Keller officiating. In his pastoral records of burials, he simply wrote the cause of death as "measles." No obituary is known to have been published in an Allentown or Reading newspaper. [Find-a-Grave]

An upright stone marker was placed at Nathan's grave, featuring a rounded top edge and a carving of an opened Bible, a common design in this old burial yard. The lettering was inscribed in the old German script. Across the top, on a curved line, is the phrase "Zum Undenten An," which in English means "For the moment" and reflects the Leibenspergers' belief in the Christian Resurrection. A notation on the left-hand page states that the funeral text was based on a biblical passage of chapter and verse "13:14." but the name of the book of the Bible is all but illegible.


Nathan Leibensperger's English-language confirmation certificate, 1886, signed by Rev. Eli Keller of Huff's Reformed Church.


~ Daughter Sarah Anna (Heimbach) Miller ~

Daughter Sarah Anna Heimbach (1846-1903) was born in July 1846.

She married coal miner Isaac Miller (Dec. 1845-1902). He could neither read nor write.

The couple produced five children and outlived three by 1900. The sons are believed to have been Henry S. Miller, Jonathan Miller and a stillborn son, and the daughters Amelia A. Miller and Martha Anna Ida Miller.

As the children were born, they received the rite of Christian baptism. Daughter Martha's ceremony was led by Rev. Eli Keller, the pastor of the Huff's Church congregation.The pastor kept a record of the baptism in his papers. The original volume of his handwritten records is housed in the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, PA. A copy of the typed version, prepared by Raymond E. Hollenbach of Royersford, PA in 1975, also is maintained in the Minerd.com Archives.

The 1870 federal census shows that Sarah Ann was married and -- while Isaac was away working elsewhere -- lived with her parents in Longswamp. Grief swept over the family at the death of daughter Amelia at the age of about 15 months on Sept. 8, 1871. Then in 1872, after the birth of their son Henry in the Topton community, the family relocated to Seisholtzville in Hereford Township, where Isaac found work as an iron ore miner. They lost another stillborn son on Feb. 10, 1873, followed by eight-month-old Martha on July 6, 1877. Rev. Keller had the grim duty to preach Martha Anna Ida's funeral sermon, and in his record he marked the cause of death as "heart disease." The three babies rest for all time in the cemetery at Huff's Church.


Sarah's pastor, Rev. O.R. Frantz
Historical Souvenir of
the Huff's Union Church

When the 1880 federal census enumeration was made, the Millers lived next to Sarah's widowed father and near her married sister Lovina Leibensperger and family in Longswamp. The census-taker noted that Isaac, continuing as an ire ore mine laborer, had spent two months unemployed during the year. He tried to enlist his son Henry in the mining work, but "it soon became evident that he was not rugged enough physically for that type of manual labor," said the Allentown Morning Call.

Their home was near Huff's Church, a landmark so well known that the name was adopted by the adjacent community. They most likely were members of the church's congregation.

U.S. Census records for 1900 show the couple in Hereford Township with their married son and young family in the household. That year, Isaac earned a living as a miner of iron ore and son Henry as a stonecutter.

Sadly, Isaac contracted catarrh of the stomach (inflammation and swelling) and at the age of 56 passed away on Oct. 11, 1902. His funeral "was well attended," said the Allentown Leader. His survivors included his siblings Benneville, Miller of Bowers, Elijah Miller of Mertztown, Joel Miller of Youngstown, OH, Mrs. William Kline of Fredereicksville, Hettie Heydt of Amityville and Marie Seip of Strouchsburg.

Sarah outlived her spouse by only a year. Suffering from Bright's Disease (kidney failure) and heart problems, she succumbed in mid-July 1903, just a week before her 57th birthday. The Allentown Morning Call noted that she had "died suddenly on Sunday afternoon while sitting in a chair. She had been ailing for several months from dropsy but was not critically ill at any time. Her husband died about six months ago." Funeral services were led by Rev. O.R. Frantz of Zionsville who was pastor of Huff's Church. An obituary in the Leader reported that "She leaves one son, one brother and one sister."


Upper Milford Mennonite Church Cemetery, Zionsville


Son Henry S. Miller (1872-1949) was born on Feb. 13, 1872 in Topton and moved in infancy to the community of Seisholtzville. He was sickly in boyhood, and at the age of 16 endured the Blizzard of 1888. In later years he recalled that most people had no conception what an "old time blizzard really was like." He tried following his father's work as an iron ore miner but was not robust enough physically to handle the rigors of the work. He then decided to go into medicine and to train as a teacher as a preparatory step. But his family physician intervened, saying that Henry's health could not endure indoor work. He needed the open air. In the 1890s, Henry became fascinated by the work of Italian stone masons who had come to Seisholtzville to obtain and cut granite for a mansion being built in Catasauqua in nearby Lehigh County. He watched the men at work as much as he could. His father observed this and arranged for the youth to begin an apprenticeship to stone cutter Henry Homscher. When he was 18 years of age, he worked for the firm of Swoyer and Lees, cutting stone, and spent two years there in an apprenticeship. He then left and secured a position with the Saylor tombstone cutting business in Collegeville, PA. As a Saylor employee, he cut Pennsylvania blue marble to fashion stone floors for two rooms of the Pennsylvania building at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

On Feb. 22, 1896, at age 24, he was joined in holy wedlock with 18-year-old Annie V. Beitler (or "Beidler") (June 1877-1935), daughter of August and Sarah (Benfield) Beitler of Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County. The wedding ceremony was officiated by Rev. Eli Keller, who per usual kept a record of the event in his papers. They became the parents of Mazie B. Prutzman, Daisy Beatrice Gehman and Bessie Wetzel, plus one who died young. They also raised a granddaughter, Iva Prutzman, from the age of three onward. In 1900, the Millers resided with Henry's parents. After the deaths of Henry's parents, they relocated in 1916 to Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, which Henry must have thought would be a larger market for his services. In Macungie, the family were members of Solomon's Reformed Church and the Patriotic Order of Americans. Henry enjoyed singing with three different church choirs, and later in life was a member of the Upper Milford Mennonite Church and its choir.

He continued the stone-cutting occupation as shown by the 1930 census. That year, their 12-year-old granddaughter Iva Prutzman lived under their roof. Occasionally, Henry's name was in the news in recognition of his work, such as when one of his markers was erected on the burial site of David K. Sterner at Huff's Church in August 1922. Sadly, suffering from what the Allentown Morning Call referred to as "an illness due to a complication of diseases," Annie passed away at home on May 2, 1935. She "had been in ill health for four years and bedfast for the past five weeks... A daughter, Mrs. Lloyd Gehman, preceded her in death slightly more than a year ago." In addition to her immediate family, Annie was survived by her brothers August Beitler and James Beitler of New York City and a step-brother, Lloyd Moll of Mertztown. Funeral services were held at the Miller home, with additional services in the Upper Milford Mennonite Church, and interment in the church cemetery. The funeral, preached by Rev. H.G. Nyce, "was largely attended," said the Morning Call. Henry continued his labors cutting stone and relocated to Lea Street. To generate additional income, he served as section at the Bowers and Solomon's Reformed Church. In the summer of 1941 made news when two of his large double markers were placed at the graves of Michael Schmoyer and his wife at Huff's Union Church and at the graves of Henry Diehl and his wife at the Upper Milford Mennonite Church. Said the Morning Call, "Mr. Miller made and put up the marker in the shape and size of a woodstove some years ago for the Berks County Historical society, near Mensch Mill, marking the site of the first charcoal furnace in Pennsylvania." Then in May 1942, he again was in the news when markers he crafted were installed at the final resting places of Joseph Watz in New Jerusalem Cemetery and for William Batz and his wife in the Egypt Union Cemetery in Grimsville. Henry was such a fixture in the community that in March 1945, at the age of 73, he was profiled in the Morning Call.

Down through the years, Henry Miller has left the imprint of his art on many cemeteries and hundreds of family plots. He has also done other work in his line, which is unusual and stands out for its artistry and effectiveness. He cut the corner stone for one of the buildings at the Kutztown State Teachers College. The first stove that was made in Pennsylvania, was made at Mensch's millon the site where the Reformed Church's Camp Mensch is now located. The man who forged it, a man named Mayberry, is buried in the woods near the camp, along with three Indians. The Berks county historical society was anxious to have one of those original stoves, with plates 1¼ inches thick. They commissioned Henry S. Miller, the stone cutter, to build it out of Siesholtzville granite. "I'll build it," said Henry, "but I must have something to go by." So a member of the Berks county society went to Chicago, took the measurements and some pictures of the first Pennsylvania-built stove. From those, Henry Miller built one out of granite. It is located in what was once the furnace at Camp Mensch. Along the highways between Huff's Church and Seisholtzville, there is a marker, made out of Seisholtzville granite, commemorating the site of the old furnace. Henry Miller made it. He is proud of that job, for there are more than a hundred letters cut on the stone. It was a long and tedious job, but he enjoyed every minute of it.

Between Huff's Church and Henningsville, the Rohrbach family monument stands along the highway. It is a beautiful piece of work and Henry Miller did the job. Mayberry, the man who built the first stove to be built in Pennsylvania has a head marker at his final resting place in the woods near Camp Mensch. Henry Miller cut it and placed it at the direction of the historical society. Not all the work he has done is confined to lettering. He has made monuments with figures on them and has been highly commended for this type of work, especially one job, "Jesus at the Cross," for the expression he moulded out of the features. Yet, he says he does not make a practice of this. "That is an art in itself," he says.... Only last year, when he was 72, he was commissioned to move the John L. Trexler monument on the Mertztown cemetery. It weighs 4500 pounds, so that was quite an undertaking. He built the new foundation then he moved the monument without so much as one helping hand, using only a crowbar and rollers.... Mr. Miller specializes in raised lettering. In former years he also worked much on German script for monuments. He did the last one five years ago. There is no longer a demand for it. He also did one monument in Hebrew, for a party in Philadelphia.


Huff's Church

A story in the Morning Call in 1945 said that that he had given up the sexton work and "in more recent years has confined his efforts to his art and he still digs graves at Fairview cemetery." His final residence was at 101 Walnut Street in Macungie. During the winter of 1949, he contracted a deadly combination of influenza, pneumonia and bronchitis, and then was felled by a heart attack, dying on March 10, 1949. His remains were lowered into repose in the Upper Milford Mennonite Church in Zionsville.

  • Granddaughter Mazie B. Miller (1896-1969) was born in July 1896 near Huff's Church in Pike or Hereford Townships, Berks County. She married trolley car conductor Clayton Prutzman (1894-1971). They produced five children, Leroy Prutzman, Iva Eisenhard, Eva Stump, Anna Marie Snyder and Lena Read. They were members of Huff's Union Church, later renamed Huff's United Church of Christ. Their home was in Kutztown, PA in 1935 and Hamburg in 1945-1969. Mazie succumbed in Reading Hospital at age 72 on April 26, 1969. Clayton passed away on Jan. 5, 1971 at the age of 76. Burial was in Huff's Union Church Cemetery. An obituary in the Allentown Morning Call numbered her survivors at 21 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Great-grandson Leroy Prutzman dwelled in Hamburg, Berks County in 1969.

Great-granddaughter Iva Prutzman wedded George Eisenhard and lived on Lea Street in Macungie in 1945.

Great-granddaughter Eva M. Prutzman ( ? -1994) married Melvin Stump and resided in Kutztown.

Great-granddaughter Anna Marie Prutzman was joined in wedlock with Daniel Snyder. Their home in 1969 was in Shoemakersville.

Great-granddaughter Lena Prutzman was united in matrimony with Roy Read. In 1969, they dwelled in Hamburg.

  • Granddaughter Daisy Beatrice Miller (1901-1933) was born on Sept. 3, 1901. On March 21, 1925, in nuptials held in the parsonage of the Reformed Church, she was united in wedlock with Lloyd B. Gehman (May 8, 1899-1957) of Macungie, the son of John and Ida (DeLong) Gehman. Rev. H.J. Donat officiated. In reporting on the wedding, the Allentown Morning Call said that "Both are well known and highly esteemed." The Gehmans relocated to Pennsburg, where their address was 326 Main Street. They were members of the Zionsville Mennonite Church. Heartache blanketed the family when Daisy began to suffer from breast cancer. She endured the illness for 15 months but after giving birth to her son Richard in 1933, her health declined. She was admitted to Jeans Hospital at Fox Chase near Philadelphia and succumbed there the day following her 32nd birthday, on Sept. 4, 1933. Funeral services were held in Solomon's Evangelical and Reformed Church in Macungie, led by Rev. L.G. Beers. The remains then were transported for burial to the Upper Milford Mennonite Church Cemetery in Zionsville. An obituary was printed in the Morning Call. A marker was erected at her grave, misspelled, reading "To soon." As well, a record of the funeral is listed in a 1941 booklet, entitled Centennial Celebration Solomon’s Church (Evangelical and Reformed) of Macungie, Pennsylvania, with an original copy preserved in the Minerd.com Archives. After a period of grieving, Lloyd wedded again to Anna Idelle Heckler (Dec. 9, 1914-1960), the daughter of Jacob and Sarah (Garges) Heckler. She was 15 years younger than he. The couple made a home at 120 Race Street in Macungie, with Lloyd earning a living as a crane operator. The 58-year-old Lloyd suffered a heart attack and was carried away a day later by the Angel of Death on Sept. 26, 1957. Anna remained in their Race Street home. Stricken with ovarian cancer, she died at the age of 45 on Sept. 16, 1960. Richard Gehman of 2050 Virginia Street in Allentown was the informant for the Pennsylvania certificate of death. Lloyd rests beside his wives at the Upper Milford Mennonite Church Cemetery.


Upper Milford Mennonite Church Cemetery, Zionsville


  • Granddaughter Bessie Miller (1906- ? ) was born in about 1906 in Huff's Church. She was joined in matrimony with Miles T. Wetzel ( ? - ? ). The couple bore two offspring, Clark Wetzel and Mariann Moyer. They dwelled in Macungie in 1935 and Emmaus in 1945-1969 and were members of the Upper Milford Mennonite Church. Bessie spent her final years with her son in Watsonville, CA, as a resident of Valley Convalescent Home. She died there at age 95 on Nov. 8, 2001. Her remains were returned to Pennsylvania to rest in the Upper Milford Mennonite Cemetery in Zionsville. The Allentown Morning Call printed an obituary, saying she was survived by six grandchildren and a baker's dozen of great-grandchildren.

Son Jonathan Miller ( ? - ? ) dwelled in Seisholtzville in 1902.


~ Son Henry Heimbach ~

Son Henry Heimbach (1850-1915) was born on Sept. 15, 1850 in the Huff's Church community of Hereford Township, Berks County.

He learned the trade of carpentry and wood carving from his father, and the two are believed to have worked together in Longswamp circa 1870.

In about 1877, at the age of 27, he was married to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Sabold (May 31, 1850-1925), daughter of Solomon and Catharine (Keeler) Sabold of Limerick Township, Montgomery County, PA.

Their union produced these four known offspring -- Mary Emma Heimbach, Albert Wesley Heimbach, William H. Heimbach and Sara "Sally" Haas/Haws.

The Heimbachs presented their infant daughter Mary Emma for baptism on Feb. 3, 1877. Rev. Eli Keller officiated the ceremony, with the baby's uncle and aunt, David and Lovina (Heimbach) Leibensperger Sr., serving as sponsors. Rev. Keller kept a personal written record of each child he baptized and confirmed, each couple he married and each individual he buried. The original volume of his handwritten records are housed in the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, PA. A copy of the typed version, prepared by Raymond E. Hollenbach of Royersford, PA in 1975, is maintained in the Minerd.com Archives.

The Heimbachs established a home by 1880 in Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County, PA. There, Henry was employed in the railroad car shops in 1880, and disclosed to the census-taker that he had worked during only two months of the year.

The couple separated by 1900, with Henry living with his nephew David J. Leibensperger on a farm in Longswamp Township, Berks County. He claimed to the census-taker in 1900 that he had been married for 23 years.

In 1915, Henry made his home by himself in Pottstown, Montgomery County at 557 Jefferson Street, and earned a living carving wooden toys.

Sadly, at the age of 65, he died two days after Christmas 1915. A local official wrote that Henry had been:

...confined to house for 10 days or so suffering from asthmatic condition and heart disease. About 3 days before death Dr. Lee F. Manger called to see him at request of Capt. Wm. Black of Salvation Army, found him suffering as above through not serious and advised his removal to Hospital. Deceased had been taking medicine for some time and expressed an aversion to going to the Hospital. The Doctor insisted, and on Dec. 27, 1915 the Good Will Ambulance was called and took him to the Homeopathic Hospital. He passed away just as he was being taken into Hospital or a minute before. Dr. Manger did not see him at that time. He says death was caused by valvular heart disease & asthma but could not issue certificate because he did not see him for 2 or possibly 3 days before. I find nothing whatever unlawful or suspicious in the circumstances of his death and did not feel it was a Coroner's case.

A front-page obituary in the Reading Times called him "a veteran topmaker and wood carver, who several years ago sold medicine cabinets..." The story added that he was survived by sons William and Albert and daughter Mrs. Harry Haas, "and by his wife." The Altoona Tribune also carried a one-paragraph obituary. Daughter Sarah Haas of 16 South Hanover Street in Pottstown was the informant for the death certificate, and spelled the maiden name of Henry's mother as "Wentzel." Interment was in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Pottstown. His grave marker is barely legible today. [Find-a-Grave]

Elizabeth survived her spouse by a decade. Her address circa 1919 was 180 Manatawny Street at the corner of Beech in Pottstown and in 1925 was 217 South Hanover Street in South Pottstown. She made news in July 1919 when visiting her son Albert in Reading. She became ill and was transported to the home of her daughter Sara Haas in South Pottstown. In reporting the story, the Reading News-Times said she "was affected by the heat wave" and "is somewhat improved."

For the last several years of her life, she was burdened with hardening of the arteries and heart disease. She died from their effects at the age of 74 on March 2, 1925. Daughter Sarah Hass of South Pottstown signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. Her remains also are at rest in Mount Zion Cemetery.

Daughter Mary Emma Heimbach (1877?- ? ) was born in about 1877. She was baptized on Feb. 3, 1877. Rev. Eli Keller, of the Zionsville Charge in Berks and Lehigh Counties, officiated the ceremony and made a note of it in his records. Her early years were spent in Pottstown, Montgomery County, PA. Her fate after that is unknown.

Son Albert Wesley Heimbach (1878-1924) was born on May 13, 1878 in Pottstown, Montgomery County. As an adult, he was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was joined in the bonds of holy wedlock with Cora A. (1878-1923). The couple appears not to have reproduced. Over the years, Albert earned a living as a stove moulder in the employ of stove works March & Brumbach in Reading. He was required to register for the military draft during World War I. In his final years, he suffered from heart and kidney disease as well as an enlarged heart. Sadly, Cora died in 1923. Details are not known. Albert only outlived her by a year and made his home in Reading in Leland Hotel, at the corner of 7th and Chestnut. He was found dead in his room at the Leland, at the age of 46, on Dec. 16, 1924. The coroner, Mr. Rorke, ruled that the cause of death was heart trouble. An obituary in the Reading Times said that he "was a molder by trade, worked regularly at Pottstown, but roomed at the local hotel during the past six months." They are in eternal sleep in Mt. Zion Cemetery in North Coventry Township, Chester County, PA.

Son William H. Heimbach (1880-1933) was born on Jan. 1880. He never married. Little is known of his life, except that by 1933, he was considered retired. At the age of 53, on July 31, 1933, he was found dead in bed. An examining physician who had treated him theorized that heart and kidney disease were the cause. Interment of the remains was in Mt. Zion Cemetery in North Coventry Township, Chester County, PA. His sister Sallie Haas signed the death certificate.

Daughter Sarah "Sallie" Heimbach (1883-1947) was born on April 18, 1883 in Pottstown, Montgomery County. She married Henry F. Haas ( ? -1940), son of Reuben and Lydia (Fry) Haas of Congo, Montgomery County. The six children borne to this marriage were Clarence W. Haas, Gladys Ellis, Verna Rosco, Mary Haas, Raymond Lester Haas and Frederick Haas. The couple established their home in South Pottstown in about 1900. Henry was employed as a puddler in an iron or steel plant for some years. The Haases were members of the Christ Lutheran Church in Niantic. Their address in 1915 was 16 South Hanover Street in Pottstown and in 1940 was 353 Laurel Street. Henry's health declined over the last two years of his life, and he was admitted to a hospital in Pottstown. There, after  a two-week stay, he died on Sept. 13, 1940. Obituaries in the Pottstown Mercury reported that funeral services were held in the family church and burial in the adjoining cemetery, led by Rev. Dr. J.J. Kline, assisted by Rev. George Fritch. Pallbearers at the funeral home were sons and sons-in-law Raymond Ellis, Clarence Haas, Frederick Haas, Andrew Rosco, Allen Hoffman and Oscar Yergey, while the ones at the church were the deceased's brothers Clinton, John, Percival, Francis and George Haas, and son-in-law Andrew Rosco. The widowed Sarah remained in their Laurel Street home for the balance of her life. She was burdened with diabetes and chronic heart disease and was bedfast for 10 weeks until the Angel of Death carried her away at the age of 64 on Dec. 3, 1947. Her funeral was conducted by Rev. Wilbur A. Martin, pastor of the First Church of the Brethren. Her pallbearers were Thomas Parr, Raymond Ellis, Andrew Roscoe, Frederick Haas, Clinton Haas and Oscar Yergey. An obituary in the Mercury said she was survived by 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

  • Grandson Clarence W. Haas lived at 764 North Charlotte Street in Pottstown in 1940-1947 and at 927½ Queen Street in 1966.
  • Granddaughter Gladys Haas ( ? -1966) was born in Pottstown. He married Raymond Ellis. They produced a son, Donald E. Ellis. Their address in 1940-1966 was 353 Laurel Street in Pottstown, and the family belonged to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Gladys was employed for many years by the Gudebrod Brothers Silk Company, retiring circa 1957. Gladys became seriously ill at home and died en route to Pottstown Memorial Medical Center on Sept. 12, 1966. Reported the Pottstown Mercury, "An autopsy will be performed today to determine the cause of death." Her funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. Luther A. Krouse of the family church, with burial in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Niantic. Her pallbearers were Frederick Haas, Thomas Paar, Fernley Ellis, Mahlon Bender, Arthur Fry and Henry Bailey, with an obituary appearing in the Pottstown Mercury.
  • Granddaughter Verna Haas wedded Andrew Rosco/Roscoe. The couple established a home in Norristown, PA where the remained for decades..
  • Granddaughter Mary Haas was unmarried and lived at home in 1940. She is believed to have wedded Thomas Parr during the early 1940s and moved by 1947 to Trenton, NJ. They were still in Trenton in 1966.
  • Grandson Raymond Lester Haas (1910-1943) was born on April 22, 1910 in Pottstown. He was unmarried and resided in 1940 with his parents at 353 Laurel Street. He suffered from psychosis accompanied by a compulsive disorder. He was admitted in October 1940 to the State Hospital in Norristown. There, at the age of 33 years, six months and 14 days, Lester contracted bronchial pneumonia and died on Nov. 5, 1943. Funeral services were held in Christ Lutheran Church in Niantic, with interment of the remains in the church burying ground. A short obituary appeared in the Pottstown Mercury.
  • Grandson Frederick W. Haas relocated to Phoenixville, PA where he lived in 1940. By 1947, he had moved back to Pottstown and dwelled at 118 South Washington Street. Then in 1966, he lived along the Pottstown Star Route.


~ Daughter Amanda "Manda" Heimbach ~

Daughter Amanda "Manda" Heimbach (1858-1909) was born on June 12, 1858 in Longswamp Township, Berks County.

She never married but in November 1878, at the age of 20, gave birth to a son who had been fathered by Alvin  Buck. She named her son Franklin N. "Frank" Buck.

She learned the skill of sewing and was a dressmaker. When the federal census enumeration was made in 1880, she resided with her widowed father in Longswamp Township, Berks County, and next door to her married sister Lovina Leibensperger. Circa 1909, she lived in Fleetwood, Longswamp Township, Berks County. She paid a visit to her nephew David J. Leibensperger that July and soonafter became "critically ill from nervous paralysis," reported the Allentown Democrat.

Suffering from convulsions and paralysis, she succumbed at the age of 51 on July 29, 1909. Son Frank Buck of Fleetwood, Berks County was the informant for the death certificate. Burial was in Fleetwood Cemetery.

Son Franklin N. "Frank" Buck (1878-1937) was born on Nov. 8, 1878, with his birth recorded in the family Bible. He made his home in Richmond Township, Berks County. Frank married Lillian "Lillie" Sassaman (April 23, 1874-1948), daughter of Joel and Catherine (Boyer) Sassaman. They produced at least one son, Warren S. Buck. Frank earned a living as a house painter and antique dealer. He suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and died of heart failure at the age of 58 on St. Patrick's Day 1937. Burial was in Fleetwood Cemetery. A short death notice was printed in the Allentown Morning Call. Lillie lived for another 11 years as a widow. She contracted cancer of the liver and uterus and succumbed at age 74 on June 8, 1948. Charles Buck of Fleetwood signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death.

  • Grandson Warren S. Buck (1910?-1998) was born in about 1910 in Fleetwood, Berks County. As a youth, he was a Boy Scout and obtained his Eagle Scout designation. He married Sara H. Haws ( ? - ? ). Their only daughter was Janet Popowitz. He received a degree in 1931 from Kutztown University and obtained a master of science in 1936 from oPennsylvania State University. He was a longtime science teacher, starting his career at Amity Township High School in Amityville, Berks County, where he spent six years. Then for 35 years, Warren taught science at Quakertown Community High School, retiring in 1972. He served as president of the Quakertown Kiwanis Club, the Patriotic Order Sons of America and Lehigh Valley Science Fair and as vice president of the Grundsow Lodge. He also belonged to the National Science Fair Pioneers. As a widower, Warren became a patient at Belle Haven Nursing and Convalescent Center in Quakertown. he died there at the age of 88 on April 21, 1998. An obituary was printed in the Allentown Morning Call.


Copyright 2018 Mark A. Miner